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How to make a desert car chase look good: 'Mad Max' cinematographer

"Mad Max: Fury Road" stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, but also a dusty expanse that's endless.
Jasin Boland/Warner Bros

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"Mad Max: Fury Road," was one of 2015's biggest movies because of its compelling story and thrilling action sequences.

But the visuals were just as big of a star in the film: the camera panned across jaw-dropping desert expanses while capturing a frantic, stunt-filled chase.

Director George Miller earned an Oscar nomination for his work, but so did cinematographer John Seale.

It's Seale's fifth career nomination, having worked on, "Witness," "Rain Man," "Cold Mountain," and taking home the award for, "The English Patient."

Seale tells Take Two that when he entered the project, there was no script for him to work with – just 3,500 story board drawings plastered around a conference room like a comic book.

"It just became an endless series of close-ups, really, and I couldn't understand the story," he says. Eventually, pressure from Warner Brothers to develop a script helped Seale fill in the blanks.

"I was able to read between the lines – or between the frames – the actual plot lines."

Developing the movie in 3D was also a technical challenge, says Seale, because Miller originally wanted to use 3D cameras in the field rather than creating the effect in post-production.

But those cameras are highly sensitive to being outside amid dust and moisture, not to mention the movement of vehicles during the car chase.

"By the time I girded my loins and thought, 'Okay, that's what's going to happen and let's make it work,'" he recalls, "George got up in a meeting one morning said, 'We're not going 3D, we're going 2D.'"

Seale also believes that filmmakers will try to quietly shift away from 3D features because of the negative effects it sometimes has on viewers.

"I think too many people push the 3D too hard until your brain hurts," he says. "I think more and more filmmakers will pull back on that in-your-face 3D look because it hurts."